Separate authors have reported that knee extension dominates power production during submaximal cycling (SUBcyc) and hip extension is the dominant action during maximal cycling (MAXcyc). Changes in joint-specific powers across broad ranges of net cycling powers (P net) within one group of cyclists have not been reported.
Our purpose was to determine the extent to which ankle, knee, and hip joint actions produced power across a range of P net. We hypothesized that relative knee extension power would decrease and relative knee flexion and hip extension powers would increase as P net increased.
Eleven cyclists performed SUBcyc (250, 400, 550, 700, and 850 W) and MAXcyc trials at 90 rpm. Joint-specific powers were calculated and averaged over complete pedal revolutions and over extension and flexion phases. Portions of the cycle spent in extension (duty cycle) were determined for the whole leg and ankle, knee, and hip joints. Relationships of relative joint-specific powers with P net were assessed with linear regression analyses.
Absolute ankle, knee, and hip joint-specific powers increased as P net increased. Relative knee extension power decreased (r 2 = 0.88, P = 0.01) and knee flexion power increased (r 2 = 0.98, P < 0.001) as P net increased. Relative hip extension power was constant across all P net. Whole-leg and ankle, knee, and hip joint duty cycle values were greater for MAXcyc than for SUBcyc.
Our data demonstrate that 1) absolute ankle, knee, and hip joint-specific powers substantially increase as a function of increased P net, 2) hip extension was the dominant power-producing action during SUBcyc and MAXcyc, 3) knee flexion power becomes relatively more important during high-intensity cycling, and 4) increased duty cycle values represent an important strategy to increase maximum power.
1Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT; and 2Centre for Sports Medicine and Human Performance, Brunel University, Uxbridge, UNITED KINGDOM
Address for correspondence: Steven J. Elmer, M.S., Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Utah, 250 S. 1850 E., Room 241, Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0920; E-mail: Steve.Elmer@utah.edu.
Submitted for publication May 2010.
Accepted for publication March 2011.